In Cheney Interview Case, DOJ Argues White House Officials Won’t Cooperate With Law Enforcement
Washington, D.C. – Last night, in a lawsuit filed by Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) against the Department of Justice seeking former Vice President Cheney’s FBI interview in the Valerie Plame Wilson leak investigation, the Department of Justice (DOJ) filed papers, including a declaration from Lanny Breuer, Assistant Attorney General for the Criminal Division. Embracing the same arguments made by the Bush administration for withholding the interview, DOJ argues if it is disclosed, future high-level White House officials will be unwilling to cooperate with criminal law enforcement investigations.
According to Mr. Breuer, it is “not uncommon” for prosecutors to inform witnesses the government will try to keep the information they provide confidential. But Mr. Breuer ignores the fact that here Mr. Cheney was never promised confidentiality, as Special Counsel Patrick Fitzgerald confirmed in a letter to Rep. Henry Waxman (D-CA), then Chairman of the House Oversight Committee. Mr. Breuer also argues if Mr. Cheney’s interview is made public, future high-level White House officials will be unwilling or at least “reluctant” to cooperate in criminal investigations. He suggests such officials will testify only if subpoenaed, possibly “thwart[ing] investigations.” Yet DOJ has subpoenaed White House officials in the past without such repercussions.
Melanie Sloan, CREW’s executive director, said, “It is astonishing that a top Department of Justice political appointee is suggesting other high-level appointees are unlikely to cooperate with legitimate law enforcement investigations. What is wrong with this picture?”
Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) is a non-profit legal watchdog group dedicated to holding public officials accountable for their actions. For more information, please visit www.citizensforethics.org or contact Stephen Santulli at 202.408.5565 or firstname.lastname@example.org.